Showtime Sports will shutter its boxing & mixed martial arts coverage in 2024, ending a significant era in combat sports.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday that an email was distributed by Paramount president & CEO Chris McCarthy stating the pivot being made by the media giant towards more scripted programming in an attempt to drive subscribers toward Paramount+.
MMA Junkie posted the full memo:
“As we continue to dedicate a larger percentage of our resources toward premium scripted series that drive subscribers for us in both Pay TV and SVOD, SHOWTIME will not be moving forward with boxing or other content produced by the SHOWTIME Sports and Event Programming Team. The company’s decision isn’t a reflection of the work the team and our partners have done, rather a reality of the world evolving and our shifting content priorities.
“For nearly 40 years, Stephen Espinoza and his team have created and delivered premium storytelling, thoughtful analysis and outstanding live production including the biggest combat sports events in history. We are deeply grateful to Stephen and the entire team whose collective contributions have helped establish SHOWTIME as the premium brand it is today.
“Under Stephen’s leadership, they have done a terrific job establishing SHOWTIME as the #1 destination for boxing around the world televising nearly 750 live boxing events and 2,000 bouts. Boxing and SHOWTIME have often been synonymous, and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication.
“While I’ve only had a few months to get to know and work with Stephen, I can easily say he is one of the most creative, strategic thinkers who deeply cares about his team, the brand, and the sports he champions. I am very thankful to him and the entire group as they have very dutifully helped us navigate this difficult transition.
“Stephen and the team will be here through December to oversee the remaining events on the 2023 boxing slate as we honor all our obligations through the end of the year.
“Please join me in thanking them.”
It remains unknown what the status of Bellator MMA is, and the promotion has long been rumored for sale with only one event left on its books for November 17 in Chicago at the Wintrust Arena.
After Bellator 300, Scott Coker had few details to share about the organization’s future and noted he was not a stakeholder in the company.
This will also end the era of Showtime Championship Boxing after 37 years and follows HBO’s exit from boxing in 2019.
Showtime entered the MMA space in February 2007 by broadcasting the initial EliteXC event and continued with Strikeforce. In April 2021, Bellator moved to Showtime after previously airing on the Paramount Network.